BREAKING NEWS Twice as many CA drivers cited for traveling at more than 100 mph this year Full Story
BREAKING NEWS North State Covid-19 updates: 91 new cases in Sutter County Full Story

Hackers take advantage of bitcoin's wild ride

Bitcoin is booming and so are criminal schemes looking to make money off the trend.The hype around cryptocurre...

Posted: Dec 22, 2017 2:49 PM
Updated: Dec 22, 2017 2:49 PM

Bitcoin is booming and so are criminal schemes looking to make money off the trend.

The hype around cryptocurrency is only growing, fueled by the massive rise of bitcoin, the digital currency created in 2009. Its value has skyrocketed by thousands of dollars in the last year, but the price fluctuates regularly.

As the hype grows, so does interest in acquiring digital currency -- both from the general public who might not know much about the technology and hackers who want to profit off it.

"Whenever something gets this much publicity and popularity and there's a potential to make what appears to be free and easy money, the criminal aspects of the world are going to take advantage of it," said Mike Murray, vice president of security intelligence at mobile security firm Lookout.

In order to use bitcoin, you need a digital wallet to receive, send, and store cryptocurrencies. By creating fake wallets, hackers can take advantage of people new to bitcoin and other digital currencies who might not realize the difference between legitimate companies and fake apps.

Lookout recently discovered three fake bitcoin wallet Android apps in the Google Play Store that trick people into sending cybercriminals bitcoin. Some of the apps had thousands of downloads.

Google has since pulled them from the store.

Related: Bitcoin boom may be a disaster for the environment

"They were clearly targeted at people who don't know anything about bitcoin, went on the Google Play Store, and started installing bitcoin stuff on their phone," Murray said.

In addition to fake apps, cybercriminals are creating malware that uses people's computers to generate cryptocurrencies in a process called "mining."

By hijacking a stranger's computer or phone, a hacker puts the work on those devices -- a typically costly and complicated process. Mining requires a lot of computing power to solve complicated math problems, verify transaction records and ultimately receive digital coins.

It's no longer feasible to mine bitcoin with personal computers, but you can do so for other currencies like Monero and Ethereum. Candid Wueest, principal threat researcher for security firm Symantec, said the explosive popularity of bitcoin is further sparking interest in other currencies, and malware creators are exploiting tools to mine them.

According to a report from Symantec, malicious mining activity is on the rise. A hacker can hide malicious code on a website and the site's users become digital currency miners without realizing it.

It can be a lucrative scheme. This week, hackers targeted websites using the Wordpress content management system to infect them with Monero mining malware. The attackers reportedly made at least $100,000.

Digital currency exchanges are also a popular target for hackers. On Wednesday, hackers compromised EtherDelta, a place for buying cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, South Korean bitcoin exchange Youbit said this week it was filing for bankruptcy after criminals stole almost one-fifth of its clients' holdings in the second major cyberattack on its systems this year.

Carles Lopez-Penalver, intelligence analyst at security firm Flashpoint, said phishing campaigns from hackers posing as cryptocurrency wallets, exchanges, or other websites try to trick people into forking over currency or personal information. Some of these campaigns appear as advertisements on search engines and websites, or in Slack chatrooms where people discuss digital currencies.

Malicious attacks targeting digital currencies and users are only going to get worse, he said.

"The will and drive to target cryptocurrency-oriented industry is here to stay because of the absurd money that has been pumped into it in the past couple of months," Lopez-Penalver said. "It is one of the most targeted industries right now -- it's what cybercriminals are looking for."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1160940

Reported Deaths: 18968
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3783237543
San Bernardino884531129
Riverside836851434
San Diego75305988
Orange731521559
Kern39721447
Fresno37021477
Sacramento35143557
Santa Clara32049470
Alameda28225502
San Joaquin25318504
Contra Costa23146258
Stanislaus21145422
Tulare20352305
Ventura18637175
Imperial15725356
San Francisco14874160
Monterey14354116
San Mateo13707170
Sonoma11712157
Merced11460179
Santa Barbara11166135
Kings1035987
Solano1003681
Marin7621129
Placer622468
Madera604785
San Luis Obispo588535
Shasta460147
Yolo447674
Santa Cruz413228
Butte381259
Sutter305715
Napa290417
El Dorado20914
Yuba194810
San Benito178416
Lassen17153
Tehama156525
Mendocino146822
Nevada11639
Glenn8837
Lake87719
Tuolumne8738
Humboldt8199
Colusa6826
Siskiyou5822
Mono5093
Amador47016
Calaveras46622
Del Norte2981
Inyo28316
Plumas1920
Trinity1360
Mariposa1242
Modoc1190
Alpine470
Sierra190
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 63°
Oroville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 63°
Paradise
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 63°
Chester
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 40°
Red Bluff
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 63°
Willows
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
Your Thanksgiving will be sunny & breezy with mild temperatures.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events